Celebration Rock, the sophomore album from Canadian alt-rockers Japandroids, starts with the sound of fireworks. Of course it’s completely clichéd, but this is a band that predicates itself on being unashamedly simple – note their use of the same production crew, the similarity in their album covers, the vocal/guitar/drum set up, etc. Not that simplicity is anything to be ashamed of; their no-bullshit approach to music is refreshing in our post-Gaga world – a reminder of the foundations that rock music is built upon. As such, these songs are as every bit huge as they are basic.
Younger Us, which first began life as a non-album single in 2010, feels just as urgent as it did upon release. It’s a nostalgia-filled ode to the recklessness of young love, all ‘naked new skin-rash’ and ‘girls running wet, wild and free’ set to an unrelenting guitar riff. Evil’s Sway plays the same game, it’s explosive energy looks you square in the face and dares you not to thrash along. Like their debut, this collection of songs is all about low-investment, high return – big on riffs, never far away from an anthemic chorus and, most of all, full of spirit. Even on closing track Continuous Thunder, one the slowest songs in their arsenal, the change in pace does little to contain their energy.
At eight songs long, Japandroids get in and out relatively quickly, though it rescues the album from descending into déjà vu territory. If their sound is an embodiment of wildness and freedom, it makes sense that such a record would be a start-to-finish head rush of energy. These are rock songs with heart, and Celebration Rock is in every sense the last day of school, the thrill of your first road trip, and the taste of first love, ending in the same way that it started. If anything, that’s the one crucial thing to take out of Japandroids’ music: life is an eternal party, and they’re celebrating with or without you.